Bush Again Ready to Veto Abortion-Counseling Law

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PRESIDENT Bush is ready to veto Congress's election-season attempt to block his ban against abortion counseling at many family-planning clinics.

The Senate sent the measure to Bush on a voice vote Sept. 14, less than two months from Election Day.

House supporters of the bill will likely fail to muster a two-thirds majority to override Bush's expected veto.

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But Democrats knew that, win or lose, the battle would call attention to Bush's anti-abortion stance at a time when most voters tell pollsters they oppose his position.

"It's election-year high jinks," said Sen. Jesse Helms (R) of North Carolina. "It's an effort to put the president of the United States on the spot."

The bill would block Bush's ban on abortion counseling at the 4,000 federally financed family-planning clinics. The Supreme Court upheld the prohibition in a 5-to-4 decision last year, and the administration plans to implement the ban on Sept. 23.

The ban forbids all clinic employees except doctors to dispense abortion advice to women. The exception for doctors means little, opponents of the ban say, because most clinic workers are not physicians.

The legislation would block the ban but allow a clinic to refrain from offering abortion counseling if that would violate its moral or religious convictions.

Such a clinic, however, would have to refer women seeking abortion information to other health-care programs where such information is available.

One year ago, the House failed to override a Bush veto of an earlier measure that would have overturned the ban.

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